Active shooters have struck in any number of public places. Schools, malls, concert venues, night clubs and offices have all been attacked. With each new attack, law enforcement and first responders learn a little more about the awful imagination of active shooters, and look for ways to anticipate, foil and mitigate future instances. Active shooter drills have become a common preparation tool in the kits of local agencies.
Perhaps one of the more unusual drills we’ve heard about was staged this week aboard a ferry boat on Puget Sound in Washington state.
Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, Customs and Border Protection, Washington State Ferry, Washington State Patrol, King County Sheriff’s Office and Everett Police Department teamed up to stage an active shooter drill aboard the newly-commissioned Washington State Ferry Chimacum.
Captain Thomas E. Bliss of the Northwest Maritime Academy was recruited to role play the part of a passenger in the drill, and he shared his account here.
Against the picturesque backdrop of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, Bliss and others scrambled to find cover on the vessel, hiding from “bad actors.”
His experiences led him to make several observations, all of which apply on sea or dry land.
Pay attention to those around you. It’s easy to be distracted by job duties, technology or any number of other things, but it’s important to be aware of other people around you. Be aware of any unusual dress or behavior that may indicate that person is concealing a weapon or may be moving into a specific position.
Engage with others. If someone is acting strangely, don’t just let it pass. Those acting with bad intentions count on slipping by unnoticed, and being noticed and engaged may be enough to discourage them.
If you see something, say something. If you notice an unattended bag, don’t just let it pass. “Pay attention to your inner voice,” says Bliss.
Has your organization planned an active shooter drill? Check out this tips for planning and staging an effective drill.